Living Blue In A Red State….

Reagan ObamaOne of my favorite FaceBook pages is a group called “Living Blue in a Red State”.  Having lived in Indiana most of my life I can so relate to that theme. I don’t know if you have noticed this but for as long as I can remember when the network news starts on presidential election night they always start with “We are ready to call a State for (whichever Republican is running) and then they say Indiana. I know what it is like to live Blue in a Red State. I don’t know if I am true blue or just a shade of purple but one thing is for sure, except for my bleeding heart I am NOT red! I simply care too much for my fellowman to throw any of them under the bus as so many of those “red” folks tend to do.

A recent post on the “Living Blue..” site showed the picture to the right.  Up until 1980 I most often voted for Republicans. Maybe it was because I just hadn’t matured enough to know what I was doing! 🙂  But when Mr. Reagan was running his “trickle down” logic just made no sense to me. His anti-government stands were just too radical for me.  I am a firm believer in the purpose of government is to do the people’s business and to protect us from the inevitable abuses of a capitalist system.  Mr. Reagan espoused almost an opposite view from me.  So as the Bible says I for the most part shook off the dust from my sandals and went elsewhere with my vote. I think that if things continue the way they are now many more people who vote Republican will be doing likewise.

But of course if Reagan were running today he would be quickly dismissed by the folks who control the current GOP as just too liberal. But there is at least a substantial group of Republicans who continue to treat Reagan as some sort of god of the GOP. While Mr. Reagan was in office he basically tripled the deficit but that is seldom mentioned by my conservative friends. Instead they like to rant on and on how Mr. Obama drastically increased it when he came into office. I am certain that if Mr. Bush had not left the country on the verge of financial Armageddon due to his constant cutting of regulations Mr. Obama’s deficits would be minuscule. My Tea Party friends love to say that they would have just let the country go down in flames instead of bailing out those too big to fail. But then again the so-called bailout is turning out to be one of the most profitable investments made by government in many years.  They have now actually turned a pretty substantial profit as a result of the bailout and as soon as Wall Street quits playing with the price of General Motors stock and allows it to reach its real value the government profits will go up even more.

Now I’m not saying as most Republicans were chanting in the 1980s that deficits are actually a good thing.  Mr. Stockman and his crowd had them thoroughly convinced that deficits were actually good for the country. I have always been one to live within my means and I think our governments should also except maybe under extraordinary circumstances and there have been only a few “extraordinary circumstances” in my lifetime….

About The Debt…

We are three billion in the hole and will be three billion more next year, and not a Congressman has got the nerve to ask voters to pay part of it.  —  January 29, 1933    Will Rogers

Obviously this quote was said long before even Grover Norquist’s parents were born but it is equally true today as it was in Will’s time. The fact of the matter is up until President Bush, taxes have always gone up to help pay for our wars. But when so many  from the GOP crawled up to the altar of Mr. Norquist with their pledges to NEVER raise taxes this tradition was very unwisely flushed down the toilet. When will we ever learn to never say never? Sometimes it seems that those guys in congress love their party more than the love their country. I don’t know; I’m just a simple guy but it seems that way to me.

Here is some now insightful words from 2007:

Source: Bush Breaks 150-Year History of Higher U.S. Taxes in Wartime – Bloomberg.

Republican Senator John McCain said that while he’s “not averse to asking for more sacrifice,” he rejects a tax increase, even one on wealthy Americans, to help pay for the war. “I’m not sure what the point would be,” said McCain, who supports Bush’s troop buildup and may run for president in 2008. “I would ask them to make other sacrifices, but I’m not sure I would want to raise their taxes just because we’re in a war.”

Unlike apparently Mr. McCain I am a history buff and I firmly believe in learning from the past in order to keep from making the same mistakes over and over again.  The sharpest rise in the national debt in the last sixty years came as a result of taking President Bush’s wars “off the books”. It is the primary reason we are where we are today.

As Will says their  doesn’t seem to be a congressman, especially those of the GOP variety, who have the nerve to ask  at least some of the voters, especially those who have profited greatly during these times, to help pay for these wars.

It seems pretty simple to me that if wars are necessary then asking citizens to pay for at least part of them is the right thing to do. But maybe the problem with this one, and in fact most of them in my lifetime, is that none of them were really necessary.

When we get into hard times in this country we have always asked those who are much better off than the rest of us to chip in a little of their wealth to help out and in the past they have for the most part gladly done so.  There is a bible verse that goes something like this, “For those who have gained much, much is expected”.  When will we start living by that code again?

About That Debt….

I know there is a lot of fury going on now about how President Obama has increased the national debt. So, when I came across this graph it got my attention. I have had several ranters here lately who proclaim that “that idiot Obama is bankrupting the country”. They go on and on about the increased deficit and how it is their sole reason to drive that “idiot” out of office. I am going to try and give you some insight into this situation but as President Clinton said recently you are going to have to pay attention…

Read more

Just Bill Being Bill….

Source: Fact check: Bill Clinton at the DNC –

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Former president Bill Clinton’s stem-winding nomination speech was a fact-checker’s nightmare: lots of effort required to run down his many statistics and factual claims, producing little for us to write about.

Republicans will find plenty of Clinton’s scorching opinions objectionable. But with few exceptions, we found his stats checked out. The worst we could fault him for was a suggestion that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act was responsible for bringing down the rate of increase in health care spending, when the fact is that the law’s main provisions have yet to take effect.

I must admit that I have always enjoyed listening to Mr. Clinton’s speeches. He just has a way with finding just the right words for every story.  If someone had just super-glued his zipper on that fateful day of his “improper relationship” there would be little to fault him with during his presidency. After all he was the only president in 50 years to have a surplus budget. I’m sure if any of my radical right friends dared to listen to his speech last night they are probably still uncontrollably wincing.

During his speech he step-by-step dismantled every argument against President Obama found in the many vitriol comments given at the RNC last week. About the only thing the fact-checker could find in it was that maybe he gave too much credit to Obamacare in causing the healthcare declining costs last year.  I know the Republicans gave the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the name Obamacare as a slam but it is now being commonly used as showing an achievement for the president.

If there is anyone who still is on the fence in this election I would strongly advise them to get a copy of this speech and read it. It was a forty-five minute speech given in the typical “Now listen this is important…” Bill Clinton mode. I would attempt to put down some of the most memorable things here but there are just too many to keep below my self-imposed five-hundred or so word limit for blog posts.

The one thing in the speech that I will mention is his comment that during his lifetime he has never seen such hatred displayed toward a president. That is the most distressful part of the Tea Party version of politics to me. We had some very good friends in the past who are now spewing this hatred. To see the anger and hate in their eyes when they talk about the President of the United States is truly scary to me. But maybe the scariest part of this is that they are doing it in church related functions such as Bible study classes. I seem to remember Jesus telling us to love our enemies. My past friends seem to have forgotten that phrase as well as so many other found in their bibles!

But what do I know…

The Job Creators and the Bailout…

I see that the outlying political super pacs otherwise known as the ultra-rich-radical-right are now hitting on Obama because it looks like the government might lose up to $40 billion in the bailout of General Motors.  They claim that it is typical of him to throw away all our tax dollars. But I look at the other side of the coin.

We have lost more than $150 billion in revenues with the tax give-aways of the Bush administration. The main logic behind those tax breaks was that if we tax the “job creators” less they will have more money to hire more people. It is amazing that some, including Mr. Ryan, are still using that rhetoric almost twelve years later. Where are all those jobs that they are supposed to use their additional wealth on? They just didn’t create them; instead they, like Mr. Romney, put the money into their off-shore accounts.

Getting back to the so-called waste of bailing out GM. Since the banks were in a total melt-down at the time it would have been likely that GM and Chrysler would have gone out of business if the governments of Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama had not stepped in. That would have meant millions more would have been added to an already swelling unemployment number. I’m just a simple guy but spending $40 billion to save millions of jobs makes more sense than giving the super-rich more tax breaks with no effect on the economy. I’m sure there are those among the GOP spinsters who are trying to figure out a way to change my mind about this but I think, even though I am a simple guy, I will know enough to see through those yahoos words.

I also hear the stories around just why GM stock is so low right now and that is because all the big money funds are waiting for the government to dump their shares at a discounted rate so they can then jump in and make a windfall profit when it moves to its true value. If I was Mr. Obama I would just keep the stocks to spite those guys. After all what’s another $40 billion to the already exploded deficits? But that is another story for another time I guess.

RJ’s Rules…..

I remember a cop movie years ago starring Stacy Keach. It was about an old timer cop who had rules for every situation. I can’t remember the name of the movie but I want to do likewise.  I have lived quite a few years on this earth and have learned some valuable lessons from the time that I want to record for posterity so I am bringing up a new category here 🙂

RJ’s Rule 39 — We should have no more military bases in a foreign country than that country has bases in ours.

So let’s look at one country to see how we stand on this situation?  (Thanks again Wikipedia for the info.)

  • pbell Barracks, Heidelberg 
  • Coleman Barracks, Mannheim
  • Conn Barracks, Schweinfurt 
  • Dagger Complex, Darmstadt Training Center Griesheim
  • Funari Barracks, Mannheim (Scheduled to close December 2012)
  • Germersheim Army Depot, Germersheim
  • Grafenwöhr Training Area, Grafenwöhr/Vilseck
  • Hammonds Barracks, Mannheim
  • Heidelberg Army Airfield, Heidelberg
  • Hohenfels Training Area/Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels (Upper Palatinate)
  • Husterhoeh Kaserne, Pirmasens
  • Kaiserslautern Military Community
  • Katterbach Kaserne, Ansbach
  • Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart
  • Kilbourne Kaserne, Schwetzingen
  • Kleber Kaserne, Kaiserslautern Military Community
  • Lampertheim Training Area, Lampertheim 
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl
  • Ledward Barracks, Schweinfurt 
  • Mark Twain Village, Heidelberg 
  • McCully Barracks, Wackernheim
  • Miesau Army Depot, Miesau
  • Nachrichten Kaserne, Heidelberg 
  • Oberdachstetten Storage Area, Ansbach
  • Panzer Kaserne, Stuttgart
  • Patch Barracks, Stuttgart
  • Pulaski Barracks, Kaiserslautern
  • Patrick Henry Village, Heidelberg 
  • Patton Barracks, Heidelberg 
  • Rhein Ordnance Barracks, Kaiserslautern
  • Robinson Barracks, Stuttgart
  • Rose Barracks, Vilseck
  • Rottershausen Storage Area, Schweinfurt
  • Sembach Kaserne, Kaiserslautern
  • Shipton Kaserne, Ansbach
  • Smith Barracks, Baumholder
  • Spinelli Barracks, Mannheim 
  • Storck Barracks, Illesheim
  • Stuttgart Airport, Stuttgart
  • Sullivan Barracks, Mannheim
  • Tompkins Barracks, Schwetzingen 
  • Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Wiesbaden
  • Storage Station, Mainz-Kastel
  • Warner Barracks, Bamberg 
  • USAG Wiesbaden Military Training Area, Mainz Gonsenheim/Mombach
  • USAG Wiesbaden Training Area, Mainz Finthen Airport
  • USAG Wiesbaden Radar Station, Mainz Finthen Airport
  • Urlas Housing and Shopping Complex, Ansbach (converted from Urlas Training Area in 2010-2011)
  • Yorktown Housing Complex, Schweinfurt 
  • Anderson Barracks, Dexheim (will reopen)

If my count is correct we have fifty bases in Germany alone. We have almost 55,000 soldiers still stationed there!  I don’t think I really have to tell you how many bases Germany has in our country.   How many billions, of dollars does it take to keep these bases open? Your guess is probably as good as mine. But in the end anything over $1.00 is too much.  Germany is by no doubt the strongest country in the European Union and has an economy more prosperous than ours. Why are we injecting billions of dollars in their economy when ours is struggling so much? So why are we there in such numbers? Why are we there at all????

Let’s invoke RJ’s Rule and insist that Germany establish one military base in each of our fifty States.  It is either that or maybe we should just remove our fifty bases from their country. I will let you decide which is the wisest choice…. It is a no-brainer to me….

Those Who Don't Know History Are….

Being a history nut I like the old saying “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. The premise behind this statement is that we should know what got us into past problems so we don’t end up making the same mistakes again.  I think this is especially true when it come to our country’s debt problems. So, that is what this post will be about.

First, let’s look at a graph showing the history of our debt. It is shown above. We were going along with only somewhat marginal increases in debt until the early 1990’s at that time President Bush (papa bush that is) raised taxes on some of us. Doing that caused him to fall out of favor with the stalwarts of his own party and therefore made him a one-term president.  But it did slow the increase of debt. Then came President Clinton who tweaked the tax code in order to make them fairer. As a result of his actions the federal budgets were balance for several years and some of the national debt was actually paid off.

Then came President Bush (baby bush that is). The first thing he did when he came into office was to give massive tax cuts to the upper 10% of the country. At the same time he took us to war on two fronts. That would not have been too harmful from a monetary standpoint but he chose to take the wars “off the books” which resulted in directly adding them to the national debt. During his years as president the national debt soared. He also did his best to eliminate as much regulations as he could find. As a result of that action Wall Street and the banking community became very creative in generating false profits. These actions came crashing down during the last year of his presidency.

So in come the dreamer President Obama who had to take over all these problems from a failed president. He like almost all of his predecessors had to increase government spending in order to try to stabilize a failing economy. Doing this and not being allowed to restore the tax codes to where they were during our budget surplus years cause the debt limit to continue to increase as they had during the 2001 to 2008 years.

I could have gone back even further to the 1980s when President Reagan invented “trickle down economics” some called it “voodoo economics” that went something like this. The way to decrease the debt is to cut taxes in order to increase taxes. Only the most conservative of us bought into this mentality. Most believe that this policy was the beginning of the runaway deficit problems.

Ok, so this is my history lesson for today. I’m sure my conservative friend would have a few revisions to my version but that is how I see it. What can we learn from history about how our debt got to the point where it is.  In my mind there are two basic lessons here. One is that if you want to increase spending you have to have a good reason and can’t say the spending doesn’t count (off the books).  One good reason would be to prevent a total collapse of our economy. The other is that you must levy taxes/income in proportion to the amount you need to spend. Some seem to think that like Mr. Reagan you can increase spending (primarily on our war machinery in his case) and decrease taxes at the same time and somehow our debt would not be affected. I’m a pretty simple guy but even this didn’t make any sense to my back then.

But what do I know….

Republican and Their War Machines…


WASHINGTON — To hear the Republican leadership tell it, the once-sacred Pentagon budget, protected by the party for generations, is suddenly on the table. But a closer look shows that even as Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, insist on the need for military cuts, divisions have opened among Republicans about whether, and how much, to chop Pentagon spending that comes to more than a half trillion dollars a year……..

The discordant Republican voices on military spending have bred confusion on Capitol Hill, among military contractors and within the military itself, where no one is exactly sure what the members backed by the Tea Party will do. It also shows why taking on the military budget will be so hard, even though a widening deficit has led the president and the leaders of both parties to say this time they are serious.

(Excerpts from the article- click the link below to see the entire story)

Ok, here is one for the books. While Republican have always been eager to cut money from old and/or poor people they almost never want to cut any money from our war  machine. They think every million dollar bomb we have is absolutely necessary.  So to say “Republicans are split” is in itself quite a statement. I don’t think much of the Tea Party but they do have a good side. Anyone that is willing to tackle the military establishment is pretty brave in my books. To even call the military budget a “defense” budget is a joke. The rest of the world “defends” themselves on many times less per person than we do and they all seem to be getting along fine.

I don’t know why all those yahoos in the press can’t get the message to the American people about how the U.S. spends  twenty times more per citizen on it’s war machine than any other country in the world and more than one hundred times more than most! Why don’t more people know that? Much of the rest of the world thinks that Americans are just cowboys itching to get into another fight. Given what we spend for our “fancy six shooters” that might not be too far from the truth.

So, this latest split in the Republicans has the military contractors confused. Maybe that in itself is a very good thing. They won’t know who to give their generous donations to (ha). Lord forbid they give it to someone who might be cutting into their profits!! Until congress tackles the elephant in the room of fiscal responsibility their efforts will never be considered serious. We could cut our military budget in half and almost no one outside our military contractors would even know it 🙂

Do you need a little more help President Obama??

Dear Mr. President

On the chance that you got time to see my last post I wanted to come through on my promise to give you a sure fired solution for our deficit problems. This one seems like a no-brainer so it is surprising that no one has come up with it yet. Before I give you the solution we need to look over some graphs and tables.  After all both government and private corporations thrive on graphs and tables.


These graphs show military spending by country. Something seems to be very strange here? It seems that the U.S. spends more on it’s military than the next twenty countries combined! Why is this? I have my own theories and here they are.

If we look at the world as one big playground then our military budgets are kind of like the sticks we carry around on the playground in order to get our way. Let’s reference this to China which is the number two military spender. Their stick is the size of a baseball bat. Going down the list South Korea’s is the size of a very small branch. It can only be used for poking. That might be annoying but not harmful. Ok, now lets get to the U.S. Our stick is the size of a redwood tree. Anyone who has seen a redwood tree knows that they are huge! Well so is our military budget and it is about easy to maneuver as a redwood! Lets look at it another way. China spends about $90/person/year and the U.S. spends about $1800/person/year! That stick is now the size of a whole forest! Why??

How can South Korea who has a population of about 50 million people have a military budget that is only 5% of ours. One of the reasons is because the U.S. has so many soldiers still there almost sixty years after the Korean war.  So why should South Korea spend their valuable money on the military when the U.S. will do it for them.  I wonder if this has anything to do with why their economy is growing while ours has been stagnant for almost a decade now? We have so many soldiers and weapons strewn throughout the world that is seems impossible to even keep track of them.  Germany is another example; we still have thousands of soldiers there to do what the Germans could easily do for themselves. Why? Like South Korea, Germany’s economy is prospering while our is stagnant. And then there is China; I don’t think I have to give you any examples here!  Surely I’m not the only one who sees this relationship between military spending and deficits?

Mr. President, you are a pretty smart fellow so I think you get the idea. When you were campaigning in 2008 you said you would do something about this but it seems you are going the way of your predecessor and also making us the world’s policemen. How can we expect to reduce our deficits when we spend so many times more than anyone else for our war machine? How can we, like the rest of the industrial world, manage to provide healthcare for all our citizens when we spend so much for bombs and other weapons of mass destruction?

I am not suggesting that we drop down to parody with our the rest of the world, I know the Republicans who now control the House would never go for that,  but how about we only spend four time more per person more than anyone else? That would still leave us with a darn big stick and one that is manageable too. That would save us around $300 billion per year? I’m not up on the latest numbers but I think that would put a pretty big dent on our deficits.

I am just a simple guy with a calculator but this seems like a no brainer to me. I like the old saying that “If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail”. Well with our super colossal war machine everything seems to look like a military conflict ready for us to go into. Maybe if we brought our peace efforts even to within a minute fraction of our war efforts we could start seeing things in a different light.  Maybe everything would no longer look like nails? When you were campaigning in 2008 I thought I heard you promise to do that. What happened?   Please get that zeal back. Put a few more peace makers on your team and a few less generals.

Feel free to use any of this info in your State of the Union on Tuesday. You don’t even have to give me any credit for bringing them up.